I Love Lilies
Lilies - Fabulous in the Garden or in a Vase
Lilies are not universally popular. I love the way they look, the myriad of varieties as both cut flowers and garden plants and I love the way they perfume a room.
My best friend doesn't like them because the look of them and their scent reminds her of funerals. I know what she means but I love them anyway. Their pollen is a nuisance - if you get it on your clothes, it can be hard to get off but that's a small price to pay.
I grew lots of varieties of lilies when I had a garden, now I just buy them as cut flowers.
Whenever I went to the garden centre and saw another variety, I'd buy it, take it home and plant it even though I was running out of space for another lily.
By the way, did I say that I Iove lilies?
The Genus Lilium
Lilies belong to the genus Lilium consisting of about 110 species.There are an enormous number of hybrids giving us the wonderful choice of colours, types and sizes of lily we have today. Lilies have been found across Europe, Asia, India, Japan, the Philippines as well as in the USA and Canada.
Find almost everything you want to know from their history to how to grow them in Lilies - Wisley Handbook.
"Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they toil not, neither do they spin: even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these."— Matthew 6:28-29
This is a book devoted to the beauty of the lily and consists of reproduced plates from the celebrated Pierre Joseph Redoute, a great 19th century illustrator. No gardening information, just beautiful pictures of lilies.
Lilies grow from scaly bulbs which should be planted as soon as possible after you buy them. The best time for planting depends on the region you live and your bulbs should come with this information.
They like a well drained soil and prefer to have their flowers in the sun and their feet in the shade so they do well with some low growing plants around them to keep their roots shady.
I've always planted lilies in groups, according to their variety, that way they aren't shrieking at each other. There are no clashing colours and confusion of fragrance.
They should be given a feed in spring of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus and make sure they are well watered. If they start growing through the surface of the soil before the last frost, protect them with straw, horticultural fleece or some other method. The plant is definitely not frost hardy.
If you cut flowers for the house, don't cut too far down the stem as it is part of the plant's survival system. If you leave the flowers, cut off the seed pod when it forms so that the lily's resources are used for the bulb thereby giving you plenty of flowers the following year. Similarly, do not remove leaves and stems because these help the plant gather resources for growth.
Although it is possible to produce lilies from seed, it is not something recommended for the amateur gardener. Instead you can remove some of the scales from the main bulb and grow them on for two or three years until they are big enough to produce flowers.
The Lily Beetle - The Arch Enemy of Lilium
This was the most hated pest in my garden when I grew lilies. I could take aphids, slugs and snails in my stride, but I hated lily beetles with a passion.
They don't belong in the UK but came in, possibly on imported bulbs back in the 1940s. Since then, they have spread throughout much of the country. They have also been introduced into North America where they are spreading.
They attack foliage and flowers. You can end up with almost no plant left and generally the lilies are weakened to such an extent that they die anyway.
There are no effective chemical controls or at least none that aren't harmful to beneficial creatures like honey bees. The only way to combat them is to inspect your lilies and physically pick the beetles off and kill them. You would think that a scarlet beetle would be easy to find. It is - but the moment you try to pick it off a plant, it drops off and lands on its back so showing only its black underside, providing camouflage on the soil.
I did find one way to stop its game, or at least slow it down a bit. I'd put a sticky insect catching paper on the ground under a lily then shake it. The beetles fell on the paper and stuck. Serves them right! I always picked the paper up so beneficial insects did not meet a sticky end on it.
I patrolled the garden for lily beetles first thing in the morning and late afternoon every single day. Even so, I wasn't winning the war.
If you have two loaves of bread, sell one and buy a lily"— Chinese Proverb
Tools for Planting Bulbs - They make the job easier
Use the proper tools for a job and, usually, it gets done more quickly and easily. Planting bulbs is no exception.
A real bulb planter, designed especially for the job, makes it much easier.
Commercial Lily Growing in the USA
Apparently almost all the lilies for sale in the USA are grown in Oregon. Find out more about how the farmers produce them.
More Information about Lilies - How to Grow Them Successfully
Whether you have a garden or not, want to plant them in the soil or a container, these links will give you the information you need.
- The Lily Garden
Get detailed information on how to plant lilies in your garden.
- Lilies: Growing them in containers
From the website of the UK's Royal Horticultural Society, learn which types of lilies are do best in containers and how to plant them and care for them.
- Growing Lilies Indoors
Not everyone has a garden or even any outside space at all so growing lilies indoors is the only solution if you want to cultivate them. Learn how here.
© 2009 Carol Fisher